March 2023 Reads for the Rest of Us

The Feminist Know-It-All: You know her. You can’t stand her. Good thing she’s not here! Instead, this column by gender and women’s studies librarian Karla Strand will amplify stories of the creation, access, use and preservation of knowledge by women and girls around the world; share innovative projects and initiatives that focus on information, literacies, libraries and more; and, of course, talk about all of the books.

Each month, I provide Ms. readers with a list of new books being published by writers from historically excluded groups.

The aims of these lists are threefold:

Happy March!

Historically, March is a very popular month for new books, and this year it is no exception. 

And more new books mean more new books to choose from and more for me to consider suggesting to readers via this monthly list. In order to keep it a manageable size, I make tough choices every month and sadly choose to exclude some great titles by wonderful writers.

It’s one thing to make that choice, but it’s another when a book doesn’t even reach my radar. As a professional book jockey, I pride myself on knowing what books are being released in my areas of expertise, but occasionally, even I miss one. And I hate it when that happens! 

Such is the case with a book that was released last November entitled Latina Leadership Lessons: Fifty Latinas Speak (Arte Público Press). This book was recently brought to my attention and I wanted to ensure I gave a shout to the editor, Delia García, and the other amazing contributors, including María Gabriela “Gaby” Pacheco, Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto, Sylvia R. Garcia and Dolores Huerta, who wrote the foreword. Be sure to get your hands on a copy! 

So here’s to all the books: the ones I couldn’t include, the 30 on this list and the ones I just plain missed!

By Sophfronia Scott (@Sophfronia). Lake Union Publishing. 335 pages. Out Mar. 1. 

Award-winning writer Sophfronia Scott is back with this fresh and absorbing story of one woman’s journey through love, loss, enslavement, sisterhood, war and more in her desperate search for family and freedom.

By Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton (@livelifedeep). Henry Holt & Co. 320 pages. Out Mar. 7.

This is a loving memoir, lyrically and uniquely written by the first Black Poet Laureate of Houston, Texas. An ode to Black womanhood, it explores the complexities, depths, pains, joys and brilliance of living your truth. 

By Yvette Lisa Ndlovu (@Lisa_teabag).  University Press of Kentucky. 160 pages. Out Mar. 7.

Bold and original, this debut collection will haunt you as much as it will delight you. Ndlovu brings the heat and the heart to these stories, from Zimbabwe to the U.S. and beyond. 

The second book of the Magic of the Lost trilogy will thrill you as much as the first. With badass women at the helm of this fantastical tale, The Faithless is an epic for the adventurer in us all.

By Clarkisha Kent (@IWriteAllDay_). The Feminist Press. 264 pages. Out Mar. 7.

In this part-manifesta, part-memoir, Clarkisha Kent pulls no punches when laying out her signature no-holds-barred critiques of cisheteronormativity and messages of empowerment, independence and respect made especially for fat, Black, queer women.

By Aurora Mattia. Nightboat Books. 288 pages. Out Mar. 7.

Aurora Mattia has written a strange, twisting, mythical maze of a book that centers trans loves and lives in ways that will thrill and delight you. Allow yourself to be transported.

By Hawon Jung (@allyjung). BenBella Books. 304 pages. Out Mar. 7.

Journalist Hawon Jung offers this timely and important exploration of feminism in South Korea and the courage of the movement in the face of deeply ingrained patriarchy and seemingly ubiquitous barriers to women’s equality.  

By Malka Older (@m_older). Tordotcom. 176 pages. Out Mar. 7.

I’m not usually one for cozy mysteries or romances (even if they are Sapphic), but this one may just turn me … it’s set on Jupiter! I am excited to give it a try, especially because Charlie Jane Anders calls it “an utter triumph.”

By Balli Kaur Jaswal (@balli_jaswal). William Morrow. 320 pages. Out Mar. 7.

From the author of Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows comes this engrossing murder mystery focused on three Filipina domestic workers in Singapore. Fresh characters and sharp plotlines make this a page-turning read. 

By Leila Aboulela (@leilaaboulela). Grove Press. 400 pages. Out Mar. 7.

Leila Aboulela, the first-ever winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing, has written a novel about one of the most important events in Sudanese history, the Mahdist War, and has centered women while doing it. 

Written by LasTesis (@lastesisoficial). Translated by Camila Valle. Verso. 112 pages. Out Mar. 7.

This is the unflinching, defiant, triumphant manifesta of LasTesis, the badass Chilean performance collective on the leading edge of the feminist movement across South America. 

By Lucy Jane Bledsoe (@LucyBledsoe). Akashic Books. 336 pages. Out Mar. 7.

Award-winning author Lucy Jane Bledsoe’s latest novel is focused on the life-saving friendship—and escape—of queer teens who meet at a Christian conversion camp. It’s enraging, heartbreaking, satisfying and an important read for our times.

By Claire Jiménez (@clairedjimenez). Grand Central Publishing. 240 pages. Out Mar. 7.

At turns desperate and witty, fresh and familiar, Jiménez’s debut taps into universal themes of familial relationships and shines a light on the lasting intergenerational effects of colonialism, violence, racism and tradition.

Written by Kaoutar Harchi (@KaoutarHarchi). Translated by Emma Ramadan (@EmKateRam). Other Press. 176 pages. Out Mar. 14. 

Her first book to be translated into English, Kaoutar Harchi’s As We Exist is a compelling memoir focused on growing up with Moroccan immigrant parents in France. As she grows up, Harchi faces the harsh legacies of colonialism, racism and injustice.

By Mia Tsai (@mia.tsai.books). Tachyon Publications. 272 pages. Out Mar. 14.

I love a good fantastical, paranormal romance, don’t you? About the only romance novels I go for these days include elves and fairies in slow-burn steam and magical mythology anyway, and Mia Tsai’s debut has plenty of all of it!

By Anuja Varghese (@anuja_v). Astoria. 208 pages. Out Mar. 14.

This is a raw and radiant debut collection centered on women of color, power, queerness, relationships and transformation. From the surreal to the all-too-real, these stories are shadowy, surprising, sleek and satisfying.

Written by Dolki Min. Translated by Victoria Caudle (@nureonjongi). HarperVia. 176 pages. Out Mar. 14.

Who would come up with a story about a shapeshifting alien who crashlands on Earth, learns to walk by hunting humans and then is forced to confront their sins of survival while critiquing humankind’s marginalization of Others? Dolki Min, that’s who. And who would read such a story? You, if you know what’s good for you. 

By Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai (@nguyen_p_quemai). Algonquin Books. 352 pages. Out Mar. 14.

From the author of the bestselling book The Mountains Sing comes this epic story of those who lived through the Việt Nam conflict or were otherwise deeply affected by it decades later.  

By Meredith Broussard (@merbroussard). MIT Press. 248 pages. Out Mar. 14.

With her latest book, Meredith Broussard picks up on the threads of Safiya Noble and Ruha Benjamin as she demonstrates how technology reinforces injustice through its ubiquitous algorithms and questionable human interactions.  

Written by Sybille Titeux de la Croix. Illustrated by Amazing Améziane (@ame.comics). Translated by Jenna Allen. Fantagraphics. 188 pages. Out Mar. 14. 

This is the deftly written and lovingly illustrated graphic biography of Angela Y. Davis, the feminist abolitionist, heralded academic and civil rights icon.  

By Yxta Maya Murray (@murrayyxta). Curbstone Books. 200 pages. Out Mar. 15.

Yxta Maya Murray’s latest examines the real-life nuclear meltdown and accidents that occurred in 1960s Simi Valley, California. Although not well known, these incidents had far-reaching health and environmental consequences, which Murray details in this powerful and genre-defying book.    

By Sophie K Rosa (@sophiekrosa). Pluto Press. 208 pages. Out Mar. 20. 

Writer and freelance journalist Sophie K. Rosa challenges us to rethink, reimagine, resist and redefine intimacy according to our own standards instead of those force-fed to us via the white supremacist capitalist cishetallopatriarchy. Consider this the next read in your study group.

Written by Carmen Boullosa (@CarmenBoullosa). Translated by Samantha Schnee (@SamanthaSchnee). Deep Vellum Publishing. 252 pages. Out Mar. 21.

In her latest novel, the brilliant Carmen Boullosa turns the Book of Genesis on its patriarchal head by letting Eve tell the real story of how it all went down. Don’t miss this one.

Joyce Farmer and Lyn Chevil created the comics series Tits & Clits in 1972. In response to repressive, patriarchal comics, Tits & Clits celebrated women’s sexuality, sometimes in outrageous and shocking detail. For the first time, this collection of women-edited underground comics will be available in a single volume from Fantagraphics. 

By Esther Yi. Astra House. 224 pages. Out Mar. 21. 

Esther Yi’s debut is absurdly funny, brilliantly surreal and wildly unique. It speaks to 21st century technosocietal conundrums of celebrity obsession, loneliness, voyeurism, media and consumption.

By Uvile Ximba (@UvileX). Interlink Books. 184 pages. Out Mar. 28.

This is a lovingly written debut that punches well above its weight. Set in contemporary South Africa against a backdrop of rape culture protests, the story follows a young woman coming to terms with a forgotten past, a confusing present and a complex future. 

By Rachel Heng (@RachelHengQP). Riverhead Books. 464 pages. Out Mar. 28.

Centering on a boy in Singapore with an extraordinary ability and the girl he loves, Rachel Heng’s latest confronts British colonialism and the promise of modernism against the tragedies of war. This is an exquisitely written, heartbreakingly beautiful tale of love and war.  

By Soraya Palmer (@sorayaonfiyah). Catapult. 288 pages. Out Mar. 28.

This debut is one of magic, myth, spirits and folktales as it introduces readers to Jamaican-Trinidadian sisters Zora and Sasha. The sisters and their troubled parents must face the family secret that haunts them from beyond. 

By Gina Chung (@ginathechung). Vintage. 288 pages. Out Mar. 28. 

Like many others, I, too, am super-excited about this wild debut by Gina Chung. The octopus, the originality, and yet, the relatability of it is giving it wide appeal to readers like me. And you! So don’t miss this one.

By Arline T. Geronimus. Little, Brown Spark. 368 pages. Out Mar. 28.

Focused on the systemic inequities in health and health care for marginalized people, Arline T. Geronimus’ extraordinary new book is being hailed as “monumental” by Ibram X. Kendi and “indispensible” by Claude M. Steele. It’s a must-read.

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